Mary Jane McKenna

Former Holden Selectwoman, State Representative, and Executive Director of the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism

"I enjoyed town politics and what was going on, and met a lot of wonderful people. And then I decided I knew as much as anybody, so I ran for the Board of Selectmen for the town of Holden, and I was elected, and I served—and I was the first woman."


Mary Jane McKenna was born in Worcester and currently lives in Holden with her husband. A graduate of Worcester’s Classical High School, Mary Jane regrets not having the opportunity to go to college as a result of financial hardship. Deciding against a career as a nurse, she took courses at the Salter Secretarial School and began her career doing administrative work for a local insurance company. After working nights as a secretary for various local boards, Mary Jane became the first woman elected to the Board of Selectmen in the Town of Holden. Throughout this interview, Mary Jane reflects upon her successes, influences, and regrets with a wry and witty sense of humor. She focuses much of her discussion on her many years working in politics at the local, state, and federal level. She discusses her experiences working with Governor Dukakis and Governor Bill Weld, and shares stories of international travel as both a State Representative and the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism. Looking back very fondly on the joys of her accomplished career, Mary Jane discusses her difficulty transitioning into retirement in 2002. She also briefly touches upon her participation in the Worcester Institute for Senior Education (W.I.S.E.) program and her current activities with other Worcester-area organizations.

Interview Date: 
November 13, 2006